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To Be . . . Or Not
- After Promising Elections; “Tyrant” Assad Offers Amnesty To Rebels
It may be hard for many consumers of Western media to remember the original reasons for the Syrian civil war but those who have been paying attention remember the conflict was originally started as an effort to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in a manner similar to Libya. After being billed as a dictator similar to Saddam Hussein in Iraq or Muammar Gaddafi in Libya; Assad was targeted by Western intervention in the same way yet has retained power longer than his enemies ever suspected and has now promised to play his part in ending the conflict in surprising ways.During the Arab Spring; Western powers began supporting opposition to Assad in Syria in an attempt to overthrow the government. Assad responded to the uprisings in the same way as other nations in the region – such as Egypt, Libya and even Saudi Arabia – did. Despite predictions by Western analysts that Syria would fall the same way the other nations that have had regime change since 2011; Assad managed to hold out like the Saudi regime did in the face of uprisings.Unlike the Saudis; Assad’s resilience was not supported by the Western military powers and instead the powerful nations continued to bolster opposition that later became violent (with the aid of Western supplied arms and air power.) The United States led the effort to oust Assad and both countries continued to refuse to negotiate directly with the other.The game changed in the past year with the added element of direct intervention by Russia in support of their ally’s sovereignty.
- Analyst: Saudi Arabia, Turkey Plotting to Transfer ISIL to Jordan from Syria
A Jordanian political analyst disclosed that the ISIL is planning to shift from Syria to Jordan in a bid to make up for its defeats in that country, and said that the Ankara and Riyadh governments are behind such plots.
“Arresting tens of ISIL terrorists along the Syrian-Jordan border shows that the Takfiri terrorist group is sending its militants to Jordan,” Nahez Hatr told FNA on Sunday.
He said that the Saudi and Turkish spy agencies have orchestrated the ISIL terrorists’ relocation to Jordan.
- EU Bombshell: The Balkan Route To Germany Is Closed
Late last month, Norwegian PM Erna Solberg proclaimed that if she became convinced that Sweden’s refugee crisis was set to spiral out of control or “break down” (as she called it), she may be prepared to close her country’s borders altogether in what would quite possibly amount to a contravention of Norway’s duties under the Geneva Convention and a move that would almost surely trigger a rash of human rights violations. It underscored how desperate some Europeans had become and indeed, it was just days later when EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos warned that the bloc has just 10 days to implement a plan that will bring about “tangible and clear results on the ground” or else “the whole system will completely collapse.”
- Obama Is FURIOUS At Trey Gowdy Over This Benghazi Bombshell
Congressmen Trey Gowdy, Chairman Benghazi Select Committee is promising more “eye opening” results in the near future.Considering this is the same committee which unearthed Hillary’s secret email server – which may land her in federal prison – everyone should sit up and take heed.Appearing on the Hugh Hewitt Show, Gowdy was asked if military assets were in position to deploy and provide aid for our personnel under attack in Benghazi.The Daily Caller reports Gowdy’s response:
Hugh, I will tell you this. When we issue our report, and hopefully, it is coming sooner rather than later, I think that part of our investigation is going to be the most eye-opening, the most surprising, and frankly, will dwarf the other two tranches of Benghazi in terms of what we have been able to find,” Gowdy claimed.
“So you put your finger on a couple of the issues. Number one, how were the assets positioned? If they were not positioned in such a way as to respond to Libya, Tripoli or Benghazi within the time frame, why not, particularly on the anniversary of 9/11 with, frankly, with Cairo having just happened? Why would your assets not be moving after Cairo? But there’s a third part to this, which is if the President did say do everything you can, and Secretary Panetta communicated that order to his command staff, do everything you can, both of those communicates took place before 7PM Eastern time,” Gowdy said.
“Why did the first wheel not take off for hours and hours and hours? That is the part that we are getting at, that I would submit to you the other committees did not,” Gowdy argued. “And I think you’re going to be surprised at that part of our report.”
- Confirmed: Obama Sent Weapons to Muslim Terrorists in Benghaz
One of the few interesting items in the New York Times’ whitewash of Hillary and Obama’s illegal Libyan war is the confirmation of weapons shipments.
Obama ultimately took her side, according to the administration officials who described the debate. After he signed a secret document called a presidential finding, approving a covert operation, a list of approved weaponry was drawn up. The shipments arranged by the United States and other Western countries generally arrived through the port of Benghazi and airports in eastern Libya, a Libyan rebel commander said.
“Humvees, counterbattery radar, TOW missiles was the highest end we talked about,” one State Department official recalled. “We were definitely giving them lethal assistance. We’d crossed that line.”
The story blames the problem on Qatar aiding Jihadists and Obama’s unwillingness to defy the terror oil state. But the claim that we had to arm terrorists to fight Qatar’s arming of terrorists doesn’t hold up too well. Furthermore we already know that US forces were told to turn a blind eye to Qatar’s weapons shipments. We could have blocked them instead.
Cracking Porcelain Towers
- UK man wins court case against BBC for 911 cover up
Tony Rooke refused to pay a TV license fee because the BBC intentionally misrepresented facts about the 9/11 attacks, he alleged. It is widely known that the BBC reported the collapse of World
Trade Center Building 7 over 20 minutes before it occurred. WTC 7 was a 47-story skyscraper that was not hit by a plane on 9/11 but collapsed at free-fall speed later that day.
So Rooke said the BBC had to have had prior knowledge to a terror attack making them complicit in the attack. He presented the BBC footage to the judge along with a slew of other evidence, and the judge agreed that Rooke had a reasonable case to protest. Rooke was found not guilty and he was not fined for failure to pay the licensing fee.
- Professor says Jews are behind 9/11 attacks and she’s keeping her job
The president of ultra-liberal Oberlin College is standing by the professor who has been posting a slew of anti-Semitic rants and bizarre 9/11 conspiracy theories on social media.The prestigious Ohio college — alma mater of Lena Dunham — released a letter from president Marvin Krislov defending associate professor Joy Karega’s freedom of speech, The Chronicle-Telegram reported Wednesday.“I believe, as the American Association of University Professors says, that academic freedom is ‘the indispensable quality of institutions of higher education’ because it encourages free inquiry, promotes the expansion of knowledge, and creates an environment in which learning and research can flourish,” Krislov writes.“Cultivating academic freedom can be difficult and at times painful for any college community. The principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech are not just principles to which we turn to face these challenges, but also the very practices that ensure we can develop meaningful responses to prejudice,” he added.
The college — which charges $49,928 for tuition — last week released a brief statement saying that Karega’s views do not represent those of the college, located outside of Cleveland.
Krislov said he’s since received many messages about Karega, an associate professor who teaches rhetoric and composition, that “range from demands for [her] immediate dismissal to demands that her right to free expression be defended at all costs.”
“I am a practicing Jew, grandson of an Orthodox rabbi. Members of our family were murdered in the Holocaust,” he wrote in the letter. “As someone who has studied history, I cannot comprehend how any person could or would question its existence, its horrors and the evil which caused it.”
Karega, who has worked at Oberlin only since last year, wrote on numerous Facebook posts that she believes Israel was the mastermind behind numerous terrorist attacks around the world including 9/11 and the Charlie Hebdo slaughter in Paris.
- Leaked report: petrochemical pollution causes microcephaly
Microcephaly = babies born with small heads and brain impairment.
As I’ve demonstrated in numerous articles, the purported cause of microcephaly, the Zika virus, is completely discredited. There is no science to back it up. In fact, the findings of Brazilian researchers constitute evidence that Zika has nothing to do with microcephaly.
Now we have this: Jerusalem Post (2/2/16), “All eyes on Haifa after damning study results leaked”:
“…preliminary results of a University of Haifa study indicating that exposure of pregnant women in the Haifa area to pollution from the petrochemical industry [including an ammonia factory] caused their babies to be born with heads 20 to 30 percent smaller than average.”
The five-year study is only a quarter of the way done. The preliminary results were leaked, causing an uproar among residents in the city of Haifa, where cancer rates are five times the national average in some neighborhoods.
- In 1993, Noam Chomsky delivered the Zika secret
In 1993, Noam Chomsky delivered the Zika secret
Dear reader, I’ve been telling you the truth all along. Now we go even deeper.
More often than we suppose, a piece of forgotten history illuminates the present moment like a stroke of lightning above the landscape.
In December of 1993, Noam Chomsky published an article in Z Magazine titled, “The Clinton Vision.” Chomsky was actually discussing US foreign policy in the Western hemisphere since 1945. He focused on Brazil.
He spoke of the US takeover of that country, and how under guise of spreading democracy and the free market, the real operation was control of land, resources, and labor—ruled by a corrupt Brazilian oligarchy in turn managed by a US government-corporate nexus.
Workers in the northeastern area of Brazil were subjugated to a life of misery, the most obvious sign of which was extreme, generation-to-generation malnutrition.
Read this 1993 Chomsky quote carefully. In the midst of his analysis, a small section will jump out and grab you by the throat, given your knowledge of what has been happening in Brazil lately, during the so-called “Zika crisis”:
“Brazil is far and away the most important country in Latin America, firmly under US control since 1945, when it became a ‘testing area for modern scientific methods of industrial development’ applied by US experts…It is a country with enormous resources that should be the ‘Colossus of the South,’ ranking alongside the ‘Colossus of the North,’ as predicted early in the century. It has had no foreign enemies, and benefited not only from careful US tutelage but also from substantial investment. It therefore shows with great clarity just what the US can achieve in ‘enlarging the free community of market democracies’ under conditions that are near ideal.
“The successes are real enough. Brazil has enjoyed a very high growth rate, which conferred enormous wealth on everyone except its population — apart from the top few percent, who live at the standards of the wealthiest Westerners. It is a sharply two-tiered society. Much of the population live at a level reminiscent of Central Africa…the UN Report on Human Development ranked this rich and privileged country in 80th place, alongside of Albania and Paraguay. In the northeast, Brazilian medical researchers describe a new subspecies: ‘pygmies,’ with 40% [actually 60%] the brain capacity of humans, thanks to severe malnutrition in a region with fertile lands, owned by large plantations that produce export crops in accord with the doctrines preached by their expert advisers. Hundreds of thousands of children die of starvation every year in this success story, which also wins world prizes for child slavery and murder of street children — in some cases for export of organs for transplant, according to respected Brazilian sources.”
The source Chomsky is using for his medical assessment of children’s brain capacity is Isabel Vincent (Life a struggle for Pygmy family, Globe & Mail Toronto, December 17, 1991, p. A15.)
- When 1 in 88 is Really 1 in 29
In 2007 The CDC announced that autism affected 1 in 150 children in the United States. What the CDC failed to make clear to the general public is that the numbers they reported in 2007 were actually from data collected in 2002. The numbers were five years old. After the 2007 announcement from the CDC, Raymond W. Gallup and F. Edward Yazbak, M.D. FAAP wrote an article titled, “When 1 in 150 is Really 1 in 67.” As the authors of that article explained, the data reported in 2007 involved 8 year-old children who were born in 1994.
In March of 2012, The CDC announced a new autism rate of 1 in 88 children (1 in 54 boys) in the United States. True to form, The CDC failed to make it clear that the numbers they reported on March 29, 2012 were from data collected in 2008. The numbers are four years old. The CDC also failed to mention that their number of 1 in 88 reflects their calculation of autism for 8 year-old children who are enrolled in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. This study monitors the rate of autism among children in 14 communities in the United States. The following map of the United States shows the states (in blue) where ADDM data is collected. However, please realize that even though the STATES are colored in blue, the data is only collected from very specific areas within each state. I think this is a little misleading, but then, we’re talking about The CDC so what can you expect? Read More and See the Charts.
- The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not about free trade. It’s a corporate coup d’etat–against us!
In 2002, it was reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had told a friend an amusing tale about our man George W. Bush. It seems that the two of them and French President Jacques Chirac had gotten into an economics discussion, after which George supposedly confided to Tony that he was decidedly unimpressed with Jacques’ views: “The problem with the French,” Bush scoffed, “is that they don’t have a word for ‘entrepreneur.'”
W’s head has always been a no-fly-zone for factual reality. However, what would boggle his mind even more than the fact that we Americans filched that word from the French, is the reality that government is not quite the entrepreneur-devouring ogre (Mon dieu! George, another French word!) that Bush’s cartoonish dogma paints it to be. Actually, government-at-its-best can be an entrepreneur’s buddy. One surprising place to see this buddyship at work is in one of the most mundane of government offices: Procurement (i.e., the Department of Buying Stuff).
Where does your mayor, school board, governor, or any other “public shopper” go to purchase fixtures, food, furniture, ferns, and whatnot? Where I live, various agencies have Buy Austin, Buy Texas, Buy American, Buy Green, Buy Sweatshop-Free, and other targeted policies that apply our tax dollars to our values. This sensible idea has swept across the country, most likely including where you live, and these agency purchases add up to a big financial boost for start-ups, independents, women-owned, and other homegrown enterprises. Rather than buying everything from Walmart or China (excuse the redundancy there)–thus shipping truckloads and boatloads of cash out of our communities–plow that public money back into the home turf for grassroots economic growth and the flowering of local jobs.
The American people would never stand for this brazen affront to our sovereignty, so I can assure you that Obama and Congress will definitely NOT be proposing any such thing. Not directly, that is.
Instead, their hope is to tiptoe it around us. The nullification of our people’s right to direct expenditures of our own tax dollars is but one of the horror stories being quietly packed into a political-and-economic bombshell benignly labeled TPP –the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
This thing is a supersized and nuclearized NAFTA, the 1994 trade scam rammed through Congress by Bill Clinton, Wall Street’s Robert Rubin, and the entire corporate establishment. They promised that the “glories of globalization” would shower prosperity across our land. They lied. Corporations got the gold. We got the shaft–thousands of factories closed, millions of middle-class jobs went south, and the economies of hundreds of towns and cities (including Detroit) were hollowed out. (Most Mexicans got the NAFTA shafta, too. US grain traders like ADM dumped corn into Mexico, wiping out millions of peasant farmers’ livelihoods, and thousands of local businesses were crushed when Walmart invaded with its Chinese-made wares.)
Twenty years later, the corporate gang that stuck us with NAFTA is back, hoping to fool us with an even more destructive multinational deal. (This calls for another immortal quote from George W: “Fool me once, shame on–shame on you. Fool me–you can’t get fooled again.” Well, you know what he meant).
This time we really must pay attention, because TPP is not just another trade deal. First, it is massive and open-ended. It would hitch us immediately to 11 Pacific Rim nations (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam), and its door would remain wide open to lure China, Indonesia, Russia, and other nations to come in. Second, note that many of those countries already have trade agreements with the US. Hence, THIS AMAZING FACT: TPP is a “trade deal” that mostly does not deal with trade. In fact, of the 29 chapters in this document, only five cover traditional trade matters!
The other two dozen chapters amount to a devilish “partnership” for corporate protectionism. They create sweeping new “rights” and escape hatches to protect multinational corporations from accountability to our governments… and to us. Here are a few of TPP’s provisos that would make our daily lives riskier, poorer, and less free:
The Cost of Presumption of Good Gov
- $3.6 Million Awarded In Flash-Bang Grenade Maiming Of Baby Bou Bou
The parents of a baby injured by a flash-bang grenade during a no-knock multi-agency task force raid in Georgia, will be awarded $3.6 million after a federal judge’s decision on Friday.
19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavah (Baby Bou Bou) spent weeks in a burn unit after deputies with a Cornelia Police Department SWAT team threw a flash bang grenade directly into his crib, which exploded in his face, leaving him permanently disfigured.
The raid was conducted at around 3:00 am for a drug suspect that wasn’t even in the house. By happen-stance, the Phonesavanh family was staying at the residence with relatives because their home in Wisconsin had just burned down.
“[The grenade] landed in his playpen and exploded on his pillow right in his face,” Bou Bou’s mother, Alecia Phonesavanh said at the time. “He’s only a baby. He didn’t deserve any of this.”
On Friday, a federal judge approved payments totaling $1.65 million by Rabun and Stephens Counties – bringing the entire amount awarded to the family to around $3.6 million.
“We have worked diligently with our co-counsel to obtain the best possible result for Baby Bou Bou and his family,” Attorney Mawuli Davis said. “What we achieved will not fix what happened or take away the nightmares, but we hope it helps them move forward as a family.”
The only officer that faced any charges as a result of the incident was twenty-nine-year-old Nikki Autry – a special agent of the Mountain Judicial Circuit Criminal Investigation and Suppression Team (NCIS).
She was indicted by a federal grand jury in July for providing false information in a search warrant affidavit and providing the same false information to obtain an arrest warrant that ultimately led to the raid.
- Parents on a Date Were Asleep in Car When Cops Arrived and Killed Them Both
On Sunday, police responded to a call of a suspicious vehicle parked on Manchester Boulevard around 3:10 am. When police arrived, they engaged in a 45-minute long standoff before opening fire on the man and woman inside the vehicle, killing them both.
In the news release on Monday, following the shooting, police claimed that the woman in the car had a gun. Scott Collins, a spokesman for the Inglewood Police Department said that the couple refused to obey the officers’ commands to exit the vehicle. The officers then feared for their safety and opened fire on the car — killing the couple. The shooting seemed like an open and shut case until the next day. Mayor James Butts, while responding to questions about the shooting, opened up a huge can of worms — both the man and the woman were unconscious.
For at least 45 minutes, police attempted “to rouse” them in an effort “to de-escalate the situation,” said Butts.
After admitting that the couple was asleep, Butts quickly defended the officers, noting, “Obviously at some point they were conscious because somebody felt threatened.”
However, that notion has yet to be proven and is particularly unlikely due to the fact that not a single officer received so much as a scratch, nor did the couple have any reason to be violent.
Both of the victims were parents; Kisha Michael, 31, a single mother of three sons, and Marquintan Sandlin, 32, a single father of four daughters.
Michael’s twin sister Trisha stated the obvious when she said that it’s possible that Kisha merely passed out on the way home from their night out.
Families for both described them as devoted parents who made arrangements for care of their children while they took a night off, according to NBC Los Angeles.
“The police ain’t telling us nothing,” said Trisha Michael after being met with tight lips from the department.
- Police Sergeant Found Guilty of Ordering Fellow Cops To Beat Up Handcuffed Children
Police Sgt. Anthony Robinson was recently found guilty of ordering other officers under his authority to assault underage suspects while they were in handcuffs. Robinson reportedly told officers Blake Norwood and Arthur Parker to beat up four different suspects, on different occasions. Three of the four suspects were reportedly minors at the time of the beatings.
One victim named Travarrius Williams told Channel 2 reporters that he was badly beaten well after his arrest while he was restrained.
“They were punching, kicking, stomping. They broke my teeth on the back of the windshield,” Williams said.
“That’s why black, young men really run from the police. We ain’t running because we did something, we’re running because we’re scared they’re gonna beat us, shoot us. When people get high authority, they feel like they’ve got power over anybody, so the Police Department’s really like another game,” Williams said.
“This is the kind of conduct by police officers that, if it goes unchecked, people get killed,” Brian Spears, Williams’ attorney added.
Surprisingly, another cop witnessed the assault and filed a report.
- State Trooper Gets Just 6 Months For Raping Car Accident Victim
In a shocking plea deal, an Alabama state trooper accused of raping a woman who called for help after a car accident gets only 6 months in the slammer.
An Alabama state trooper accused of raping a car accident victim and forcing her to perform oral sex was sentenced to just six months in jail.
Samuel H. McHenry II, 36, pleaded guilty on Thursday to misdemeanor sexual misconduct under a deal with prosecutors. He originally faced charges of rape and sodomy for the December 2015 incident, but those were dismissed.
Under the agreement, the ex-trooper’s state certification will be revoked and he will be required to register as a sex offender, the Associated Press reported.
McHenry will also be permitted to serve his sentence “in increments at his own discretion,” WSFA reported. The 182 days must be served within the next year.
The Alabama Attorney General’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
- State Supreme Court Rules Cops No Longer Need a Warrant to Enter Homes and Seize Evidence
The Wisconsin Supreme Court just dealt a death blow to the Fourth Amendment, which is supposed to protect a citizen against unreasonable search and seizure. What’s more, the decision was made by a single, newly-appointed judge who was not even present when arguments were made in court.
In a 4-3 decision, the state’s highest court ruled that evidence seized in a person’s private home during a warrantless search can be used against the person under an expanded view of the “community caretaker” clause.
- FBI Admits Apple Encryption Case Means Legal Precedent, Not Just One Phone
TN Note: The FBI’s “single phone used by terrorist” mantra is rapidly breaking down. The FBI has long-sought-after a permanent back door to encryption schemes used by technology vendors to keep citizens’ data safe and secure. The FBI chose to air the argument in the mainstream media in order to gain public sympathy for its quest. Thus far, it isn’t working and more an more people are seeing through the ruse.
The director of the FBI has conceded that future judges will look to his battle with Apple as a precedent for law enforcement access to locked or encrypted mobile devices, the first time the government has conceded that the implications of the case stretch beyond an investigation into the San Bernardino terrorist attacks.
The ultimate outcome of the Apple-FBI showdown is likely to “guide how other courts handle similar requests”, James Comey told a congressional intelligence panel on Thursday, a softening of his flat insistence on Sunday that the FBI was not attempting to “set a precedent”.
Comey deferred answering legislators’ questions on the implications of a judge ordering Apple to write code permitting the FBI to guess the passcode of an iPhone 5C used by the San Bernardino killer Syed Farook, something Apple has painted as sufficiently wide-ranging to justify its defiance of a court order.
- Apple Doesn’t Have to Help FBI in New York iPhone Case, Judge Says
A federal judge in Brooklyn says the FBI cannot force Apple to open a locked iPhone used by a suspected drug dealer.The ruling is a boost to Apple in the public opinion war with the federal government over access to locked devices. Though it is not binding on a judge in California who is now considering the separate case of access to a locked iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers, it gives the company a leg up, and Apple will be sure to cite it in that ongoing dispute.
The massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., left 14 people dead, and investigators searching for answers.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein said the FBI could not compel Apple to unlock the phone in the Brooklyn case, because Congress specifically considered and rejected a bill that would require companies like Apple to make the data on a locked iPhone available to law enforcement.
- San Bernardino DA says seized iPhone may hold “dormant cyber pathogen” [Update]
The San Bernardino District Attorney told a federal judge late Thursday that Apple must assist the authorities in unlocking the iPhone used by Syed Farook, one of the two San Bernardino shooters that killed 14 people in a killing rampage in December. The phone, which was a county work phone issued to Farook as part of his Health Department duties, may have been the trigger to unleash a “cyber pathogen,” county prosecutors said in a brief court filing.Jonathan Zdziarski, a prominent iPhone forensics expert, said in a telephone interview that the district attorney is suggesting that a “magical unicorn might exist on this phone.””The world has never seen what he is describing coming from an iPhone,” Zdziarski said. “I would expect, I would demand, in order to make that statement at all, he should make some kind of proof.”
It sounds like he’s making up these terms as he goes. We’ve never used these terms in computer science. I think what he’s trying to suggest is that Farook was somehow working with someone to install a program on the iPhone that would infect the local network with some kind of virus or worm or something along those lines. Anything is possible, right? Do they have any evidence whatsoever to show there is any kind of cyber pathogen on the network or any logs or network captures to show that Farook’s phone tried to introduce some unauthorized code into the system?
In a follow-up e-mail, Zdziarski added: “This reads as an amicus designed to mislead the courts into acting irrationally in an attempt to manipulate a decision in the FBI’s favor. It offers no evidence whatsoever that the device has, or even might have, malware on it. It offers no evidence that their network was ever compromised. They are essentially saying that a magical unicorn might exist on this phone.”
At issue is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants Apple to create software to help it bypass the passcode lock to enable the authorities to gain access to the iPhone. Apple is fighting a Southern California magistrate’s order that it do that. Oral arguments are set for March 22 in federal court, in which Apple hopes to change the magistrate’s mind.
- No, Turning On Your Phone Is Not Consenting to Being Tracked by Police
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals on Wednesday upheld a historic decision by a state trial court that the warrantless use of cell-site simulators, or Stingrays, violates the Fourth Amendment.
The trial court had suppressed evidence obtained by the warrantless use of a Stingray — the first time any court in the nation had done so.
Last April, a Baltimore police detective testified that the department has used Stingrays 4,300 times since 2007, usually without notifying judges or defendants.
The ruling has the potential to set a strong precedent about warrantless location tracking. “Police should now be on notice,” said Nate Wessler, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “Accurately explain your surveillance activities to a judge and get a warrant, or risk your evidence being thrown out.”
Stingrays mimic cellphone towers, tricking nearby phones into connecting and revealing users’ locations. Stingrays sweep up data on every phone nearby — collecting information on dozens or potentially hundreds of people.
The case centers around the 2014 arrest of Kerron Andrews, a suspect in a shooting that injured three people. In order to locate him, police filed a “pen register” application, which is not a warrant, and does not require them to establish probable cause. A judge granted the application, which said that police would obtain the information from Andrews’ wireless service provider.
Instead, police used a high-tech Stingray called the “Hailstorm.” They located Andrews and found the murder weapon. However, they repeatedly failed to notify the judge about the change in tactics. Finally, during a hearing last June, the police department was forced to testify about the Hailstorm, leading the judge to accuse it of intentionally withholding information from the defense.
After the trial court threw out the Stingray evidence, the Maryland attorney general alarmed civil liberties groups by arguing that anyone who keeps their phone turned “on” is consenting to being tracked by police. The full ruling, which has not yet been issued, will presumably reject that argument.
During the oral argument before the appeals court in February, one of the judges called the police’s pen register application a “completely false document,” and “completely disingenuous.”
The Department of Justice issued guidelines in September requiring federal officers to apply for a warrant before using a Stingray. Those guidelines only applied to the seven agencies known to use them, not to state and local police. In 2014, the state of Maryland passed a law requiring a warrant for police to track an individual’s current or real-time location. The law only affects cases going forward, so it did not influence Andrew’s case.
- An Activist Wrote a Script to FOIA the Files of 7,000 Dead FBI Officials
One of the best times to file a Freedom of Information request with the FBI is when someone dies; after that, any files that the agency holds on them can be requested. Asking for FBI files on the deceased is therefore pretty popular, with documents released on Steve Jobs, Malcolm X and even the Insane Clown Posse.One activist is turning this back onto the FBI itself, by requesting files on nearly 7,000 dead FBI employees en masse, and releasing a script that allows anyone else to do the same.
“At the very least, it’ll be like having an extensive ‘Who’s Who in the FBI’ to consult, without worrying that anyone in there is still alive and might face retaliation for being in law enforcement,” Michael Best told Motherboard in an online chat. “For some folks, they’ll probably show allegations of wrongdoing while others probably highlight some of the FBI’s best and brightest.”
On Monday, Best will file FOIAs for FBI records and files relating to 6,912 employees named in the FBI’s own “Dead List,” a list of people that the FBI understands to be deceased. A recent copy of the list, which includes special agents and section chiefs, was FOIA’d by MuckRock editor JPat Brown in January.
“The more people that request the files, the clearer it is that there’s a widespread interest”
Best took the PDFs of the Dead List and converted them into a spreadsheet. He didn’t carry over around two dozen of the entries, however, because the index didn’t always list the full name. “I didn’t want to give the FBI the excuse of having files that are difficult to ID,” he said.
Best has released a script he wrote so others can easily file the same requests, pressuring the FBI to publish the files in a speedy fashion. The script takes names from the spreadsheet and places them into an email template to request the appropriate records.
“The script will work with any FOIA office that accepts email submissions,” Best said.
When asked why he wanted more people to get involved, Best pointed to the Department of Justice’s own stance on “frequently requested” records. “The more people that request the files, the clearer it is that there’s a widespread interest and the harder it is for them [the FBI] to argue against putting all of those files onto their website,” he said.
This is the so-called “rule of three”; when three people ask for the same records, there is more of a chance of the agency responding quickly. Two other people have already told Best they will requests records as well, but getting this script into the public increases the chances of people following through.
- A New Technique Makes GPS Accurate to an Inch
GPS is an utterly pervasive and wonderful technology, but it’s increasingly not accurate enough for modern demands. Now a team of researchers can make it accurate right down to an inch.
Regular GPS registers your location and velocity by measuring the time it takes to receive signals from four or more satellites, that were sent into space by the military. Alone, it can tell you where you are to within 30 feet. More recently a technique called Differential GPS (DGPS) improved on that resolution by adding ground-based reference stations—increasing accuracy to within 3 feet.
Now, a team from the University of California, Riverside, has developed a technique that augments the regular GPS data with on-board inertial measurements from a sensor. Actually, that’s been tried before, but in the past it’s required large computers to combine the two data streams, rendering it ineffective for use in cars or mobile devices. Instead what the University of California team has done is create a set of new algorithms which, it claims, reduce the complexity of the calculation by several order of magnitude.
- The NSA’s SKYNET program may be killing thousands of innocent people
In 2014, the former director of both the CIA and NSA proclaimed that “we kill people based on metadata.” Now, a new examination of previously published Snowden documents suggests that many of those people may have been innocent.Last year, The Intercept published documents detailing the NSA’s SKYNET programme. According to the documents, SKYNET engages in mass surveillance of Pakistan’s mobile phone network, and then uses a machine learning algorithm on the cellular network metadata of 55 million people to try and rate each person’s likelihood of being a terrorist.
Patrick Ball—a data scientist and the director of research at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group—who has previously given expert testimony before war crimes tribunals, described the NSA’s methods as “ridiculously optimistic” and “completely bullshit.” A flaw in how the NSA trains SKYNET’s machine learning algorithm to analyse cellular metadata, Ball told Ars, makes the results scientifically unsound.
Somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000 people have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, and most of them were classified by the US government as “extremists,” the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported. Based on the classification date of “20070108” on one of the SKYNET slide decks (which themselves appear to date from 2011 and 2012), the machine learning program may have been in development as early as 2007.
In the years that have followed, thousands of innocent people in Pakistan may have been mislabelled as terrorists by that “scientifically unsound” algorithm, possibly resulting in their untimely demise.
The siren song of big data
SKYNET works like a typical modern Big Data business application. The program collects metadata and stores it on NSA cloud servers, extracts relevant information, and then applies machine learning to identify leads for a targeted campaign. Except instead of trying to sell the targets something, this campaign, given the overall business focus of the US government in Pakistan, likely involves another branch of the US government—the CIA or military—that executes their “Find-Fix-Finish” strategy using Predator drones and on-the-ground death squads.
- As Seen On A Russian Bus Stop
Seen at a Moscow bus stop: “Smoking Kills more people than Obama”
h/t @adagamov and @olliecarroll
- Police Taser drones authorized in N.D.
riminals in North Dakota may soon find themselves zapped by Tasers from on high.
That’s one of the possibilities presented by the state’s House Bill 1328, which allows police departments to equip drones with non-lethal weapons such as Tasers, tear gas and rubber bullets.
Controversy already is swirling around the new law, which went into effect Aug. 1.
The original piece of legislation, as presented by state Rep. Rick Becker, was aimed at making sure police obtained a search warrant to use a drone to seek out criminal evidence. But when Bruce Burkett, a lobbyist with ties to area police, was allowed to amend the bill, it was rewritten to specify that drones could carry anything except weapons capable of lethal force.
- Police appeal to lawmakers for future options on arming drones
The drone discussion has been buzzing around the state Capitol for hearings this week.Monday, a bill to ban the weaponization of drones was discussed, and on Tuesday, a bill to control the use of drones in many ways, including by law enforcement agencies, was debated.
Lawmakers listened to testimony concerning restrictions on drones with cameras versus expectations of privacy. The bill would also require police to get a warrant to use drones in many cases.
Police made the argument that armed drones in law enforcement could be an effective weapon for public safety.
“We’ve had a report that somebody’s going to fly a drone into an airplane, into an engine, or it’s a weaponized drone,” Farmington Police Chief Paul Melanson said. “We’re concerned and we don’t have those answers yet.”
The ACLU of Connecticut testified against allowing police to arm drones, saying it could open the door even more to excessive use of force.
“We are concerned that there could be misuse, particularly on vulnerable communities,” David McGuire of the ACLU said at the hearing.
What Could Go Wrong?
- Cop Uses Taser to Light Gasoline-Soaked Man on Fire: Lawsuit
A Chesterfield County, Va., police officer Tased a young man at the scene of serious car accident, setting his gasoline-soaked clothing ablaze and nearly killing him, a lawsuit filed by the man’s guardian claims.
In a complaint filed in Richmond City Circuit Court, Kim Powell says Miles Zachery-Cole November flipped his 2012 Volkswagen sedan on a local highway in the early morning hours of Feb. 8, 2015, and that officers responding to the scene pulled him from the wreckage.
A short time later, Powell claims, officer Ryan Swope used his Taser on November, setting fire to his gasoline-soaked clothes and body.
Court documents describe a strong smell of gasoline at the scene, and say law enforcement officials were aware of the potential for fire hazard-Swope ignored orders against discharging his weapon.
“As a result of the fire ignited by Swope, November suffered full thickness burns on approximately 86 percent of his body,” the complaint says.
Powell says November spent more than six months in the intensive care burn unit of Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center , where he contracted septic blood poisoning and underwent 35 surgeries including a tracheostomy due to respiratory issues and kidney failure.
“For many months he was completely unable to feed himself, clothe himself, stand up or walk and was even unable, without significant assistance, to sit up in his bed. Even now, a year after Swope’s use of the Taser engulfed him in flames, he has limited use of his arms and legs. Almost his whole body is horribly scarred and disfigured,” the complaint continues.
Powell says November has already needed medical care costing more than $6.5 million and he will require a lifetime of care.
- Pay-By-Plate is really a nationwide license plate tracking system created by AECOM & DHS
It was about two years ago, when news broke that DHS was creating a nationwide license plate tracking system and not long after, they claimed to have cancelled the project.
Don’t believe everything you read…
Last month, I warned everyone that DHS was working with states across the country to phase out vehicle registration stickers and use license plate readers to track everyone.
Pennsylvania DOT Secretary Leslie Richards reveals the real reason states are getting rid of registration stickers…
“Law enforcement will be able to do a much wider capture of license plates than they could in the old-fashioned way where they had to physically look at and read them.”
DHS is also using Pay-By-Plate (PBP) to create a nationwide license plate tracking system.
A few years ago the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) began working with a former oil company called AECOM Technology Corporation (AECOM) to create a PBP tracking system on the Tobin Memorial Bridge.
By the end of 2016 DHS/Police will track every vehicle across Massachusetts when the I 90 Turnpike PBP tracking system is scheduled to be up and running.
AECOM’s stated mission is to convince the public that a national PBP tracking system is a good thing!
“Goals are to direct or oversee AECOM national tolls projects and development efforts, and support the toll industry in its continual efforts to modernize, economize and increase public acceptance as tolls grow dramatically in North America…”
To increase public acceptance of more surveillance, the government always uses the tired old excuse, it’s for our safety. AECOM and the MassDOT are using scare tactics to promote a nationwide PBP tracking system.
Page 6 of AECOM/MassDOT’s report, shows pictures of toll booth accidents as a reason to get rid of toll booths and implement a PBP tracking system.
Only near the end of the report, on Page 16 does one find out what the PBP tracking system is really about.
Under the AETS Roadside and Host Section, AECOM declares, it’s all about ALPR/Fingerprinting, otherwise known as Automatic License Plate Reader Fingerprinting.
As if tracking everyone’s license plate isn’t bad enough, states have begun forcing bad drivers to display “special license plates.”
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